Tuesday, September 06, 2011
So why did Cameron make a futile promise that he knew would cost him politically? Partly, he is torn between his business allies, who favour a relaxed approach to immigration, and the lower-middle-class Tory bedrock, who would ideally like to inhabit the sort of all-white chronotope of modern Britain purveyed by Midsomer Murders. Cameron has attempted to manage this by triangulating. Thus, his cap on non-EU migration partially made up for his reneging on the "cast iron" guarantee to hold a referendum on the EU treaty. Similarly, he has made concessions to alarmism about immigration threatening "our way of life". Yet, under pressure from big business, he has relented, even promising last year to relax the cap on non-EU migration. Thus, while tending to give business what it wants, Cameron engages in strategic rhetorical tilts to one or other element in an unstable Tory coalition, in an attempt to prevent the whole from collapsing into fragments as it did over Europe in the 1990s.